As if there was not enough urgency for the Flyers to not give the New Jersey Devils any life in tomorrow night’s Game 5 throw-down, a win tomorrow night would not only give the Flyers a pass to the second round but a chance to get two of their star players some much needed rest.
Both Jeff Carter and Simon Gagne will miss at least Game 5 with fractures in their right feet.
Ville Leino and David Laliberte will replace Carter and Gagne in the lineup.
Gagne fractured a toe in his right foot when he blocked an Ilya Kovalchuk slap shot with 4:30 remaining in the second period of Game 4, just one shift after taking a Brian Rolston slap shot to the same area.
Carter suffered his foot injury with 9:28 left in the third period, when Chris Pronger’s shot bounced off his foot and into the net to give the Flyers a 4-1 lead.
Carter had a CT scan performed early today and the results are not yet known. Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren has provided no update other than to say that both players are day-to-day.
No timetable has been set for either player. Holmgren is slated to address the media later today via conference call.
Carter was seen at the Skate Zone in a walking boot with crutches. He fractured a bone in his left foot on March 21 when blocking a shot against Atlanta.
“It’s tough,” Carter said. “It seems like I just got off [the crutches]. It’s definitely disappointing. I really felt like I was starting to get back into my groove and get some jump in my game. A setback like this is tough. That’s hockey, I guess.
“I’m just kind of waiting to hear the results, so we’ll see what happens. I don’t really know too much right now. We just have to wait and see what the results are.”
Gagne was not available to the media. Both players could be out for an extended period of time.
If the Flyers were to win the series tomorrow night in Newark, the Flyers would have approximately one week off until the Eastern Conference Semifinals resume on April 28.
A loss would give the Devils new found confidence heading back to Philadelphia.
“I think that should be the focus: the good things, not the bad things,” Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. “We have a chance to do some good tomorrow. You definitely don’t want to give them a breath to think that they’re still alive.”
For now, it is an opportunity for Leino and Laliberte to step into the lineup. Leino had the game-winning goal and an assist in the Flyers’ March 28 win over the Devils. Laliberte has never played in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“Everybody wants to play in the playoffs,” Leino said. “It’s been tough for me to sit and watch. When someone gets injured, that’s when you get your chance. That’s not the way you want it to happen but that’s the way it goes.”
Leino has been a healthy scratch off-and-on for the Flyers since he was acquired on Feb. 6 from Detroit.
Last year with the Red Wings, Leino was able to work his way into the lineup with an injury to one of Detroit’s other forwards.
“It’s a fast game. Playoffs are fast. I think the game is more simple: if you win one battle you get a scoring chances sometimes, because I think it’s more organized. It was really fun to play in the playoffs.
“It’s frustrating to stay out, especially if you feel like you’ve been playing good and producing. It’s frustrating but now you want to play against and show what you’ve got.”
Pick up Thursday’s Daily News for David Laliberte’s thoughts on his first playoff test.
Keep your computer locked on Frequent Flyers for an update later today with the full prognosis for Carter and Gagne’s injuries.
For the latest updates, follow Frank Seravalli on Twitter (http://twitter.com/DNFlyers).